blog / dreaming of new england

i spent formative childhood years in the foothills of the catskill mountain range in new england [the northeast of usa] and it really imprinted on me. places that don’t have mountains, trees, and snow feel wrong, or at least like they could never become “home.”

but at some point i convinced myself that once i moved away, if i moved back it would feel like i’ve given up; like i never left my hometown, never challenged myself, never learned about different cultures and never really grew as a person. or i’d be like the atheist who returns to the religious indoctrination of their childhood not for good scientific reasons but because it feels comforting or familiar.

so i have spent my adulthood in atlanta and southern california, always complaining. too flat. too hot. too humid. too conservative. too religious. too arid. too bright. no snow. no green. brown hills. on fire.

i fell in love with japan when i visited (and again every time i visit.) the lush mountains, public works, a rich religious heritage without the hatred or fire-and-brimstone. but i’ve been dissuaded from daydreams of moving there by certain aspects of their culture (one being sexism in the job market).

i fell in love with the pacific northwest [of the usa] when i visited but i’ve been dissuaded from daydreams of moving there by stories of endless grey winters. (more precisely: i think i would thrive in it, like a fungus in a waterlogged rotting tree-stump, but it would be too unpleasant for my family of beach-goers.)

i recently got a job based in the northeast, which has given me occasion to visit a couple times, traveling from my residence in the southwest, literally the opposite corner of the country

i started feeling super nostalgic, and those feelings of “i can’t move back here” began to erode.

turns out, the northeast is a big place.

there’s big diverse cities that i’ve never seen before each with their own unique history and culture.

not all the metropolitan areas are new york city. not all the suburbs are my hometown. not all the rural areas are the one from my childhood.

i could, perhaps, move there for the weather, the trees, the very good political climate, the sun being in the right place in the sky, without feeling like i’m returning to a small town.

while visiting i heard a surprising number of people tell the same story: they moved out to silicon valley for a while, hated the culture, moved back, and love where they live now. that could totally have been me, if i had made the huge mistake we computer science types are all told we should endeavor to make: graduate and go work for google or its ilk. (i’m glad i didn’t)

but what must it feel like to say “i love where i live”?